We've created this page as a resource for Whitman College faculty members. If you have any further questions, please contact the Associate Director of Academic Resources, Antonia Keithahn.
Guidelines for Interaction with Students Who Have Disabilities
Information for Faculty Regarding Privacy
Working with Students
Field Trips and Out-of-Class Activities
Learning Disability Information
We encourage faculty to include on their syllabi a statement such as the following that makes explicit the process for obtaining accommodations for any kind of disability:
If you are a student with a disability who will need accommodations in this course, please meet with Antonia Keithahn, Associate Director of Academic Resources (Memorial 326, 509.527.5767, firstname.lastname@example.org) for assistance in developing a plan to address your academic needs. All information about disabilities is considered private; if I receive notification from Ms. Keithahn that you are eligible to receive an accommodation due to a verified disability, I will provide it in as discreet a manner as possible.
You might also provide an additional sentence or two encouraging any student to come see you as soon as possible if they are finding the assignments, lectures, or other aspects of the course either confusing or more time-consuming than they think they should be. Whether or not students have a diagnosed disability, most individual students benefit from reflecting on their own particular learning strategies and working with the professor to develop ways to improve how they go about doing the work for the course.
Disabilities are not protected under ADA law, however individuals with disabilities are. Because students with the same type of impairment vary in their level of functioning, it is better to focus on how the student performs in your class than on their disability. It is the student’s responsibility to request services from the Academic Resource Center. After the student and Antonia Keithahn, meet and agree on reasonable accommodations, you will receive verification of the student’s disability and an outline of recommended adjustments. Students with disabilities are advised to approach their instructors to discuss the requested accommodations.
Instructors are not given specific information or a diagnosis of the student’s disability, in most cases they will be told that a disability exists, and they will be given an outline of the accommodations recommended. All information about your students’ disabilities must be kept confidential. The provision of accommodations should be done without drawing undue attention to the students or disclosing their identities to the rest of the class. Faculty can learn how to provide the recommended adjustments discreetly by speaking privately with the student.
The following documents contain specific suggestions for working with students who have various disabilities.
- Students Who Have Visual Impairments
- Students Who Have Hearing Impairments
- Students Who Have Mobility Impairments
- Students Who Have Learning Disabilities
- Students Who Have Psychological Disabilities
For more information on specific learning disabilities, see the Learning Disability Information section of this page.
We've supplied the following documents to give more context and structure to some commonly-approved accommodations here at Whitman College as well as the accommodations process as a whole:
- Access to Instructors' Notes (Download Word document)
- Access to Instructors' Notes (Open PDF document)
Students who have disabilities have a right to participate in all the educational activities associated with a course, including any activities planned for outside the classroom. Thus, it is necessary for faculty members to consider the specific needs and limitations of students as they plan required field trips or other out-of-the-classroom activities. Issues to consider are accessible transportation; steps, curb cuts, and elevators at the off-campus site; service animals; and sign language interpreters. The Academic Resource Center will be able to assist faculty in planning appropriate adjustments.
Occasionally, it will be impossible for a student to engage in a regular course activity; for instance, a blind student cannot use a telescope or microscope. In such cases, an alternative activity should be devised to achieve the same educational goals.
In case of medical emergencies, contact the Welty Student Health Center or call 9-1-1 immediately. Notify the Health Center as soon as possible after phoning 9-1-1. They may have some health information about the student that could be of critical importance to the emergency response team. Students who are blind or deaf may not be able to identify warning signs or alarms in the event of a fire, earthquake, or other disaster. Communicate directly with them to ensure they can safely exit from the building along with the rest of the class. Students with mobility limitations should consult with the Director of Academic Resources, the college’s Safety Officer, and the Director of Security to form a plan for assistance in the case of an emergency.